Marina Zurkow, Valentine Cadieux, Aaron Marx, Sarah Petersen
Commissioned by Northern and presented as part of
Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, 2016-2017.See details on our project here.

Making the Best of It is the umbrella concept for a series of regionally site-specific pop up food “refuges” (shacks, installations, carts, tea houses, drones) and designed community meals that feature a climate-change enabled (and often unwanted) edible indicator species, in order to engage publics in tastings and conversation about the risks of climate chaos, our business-as-usual food system, and the short term food innovations at our disposal.

Making the Best of It: Dandelion elected as its poster child the humble dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. Abundant, nutritious, adorable, symbolic, and disliked by lawn-owners, this invasive plant offers a model of eating and thinking about human and interspecies well-being on a variety of levels. It is highly adaptable, does well in disturbed ecosystems, and is of significant interest to a variety of species, from bees to our gut microbiome. In addition, its anatomical response to different environmental conditions makes it an interesting guide for exploring the complexity of climate instability.

At Northern Spark 2016, a custom pop-up 'refuge' will offer free servings of dandelion, in food and beverage forms, and accompanied by a graphical system of information, provocations, and recipes.

The team -- artist Marina Zurkow, food system artist/sustainability educator Valentine Cadieux, artist/architect Aaron Marx and artist/producer Sarah Petersen -- have partnered with Northern to produce two public food events and a series of community dinners modeled on the potluck. The team will work with climate scientists, educators, students, foragers, chefs, and community leaders and members to create these food and conversation events.

Making the Best of It: Dandelion takes place in two contexts:

1. At Northern Spark 2016 and 2017, which draws an audience of more than 50,000. A set of sculptural garden shacks will serve free tastings of dandelion, prepared as novel street food, and accompanied by a system of information, provocations, and recipes in graphic form.

2. From fall 2016 - spring 2017, we will organize potluck-style dinners in collaboration with communities, focused on exploring the innovation needed for eating in an unpredictable future. These will take place in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Dandelion-centered dishes, and other evocative, provocative edible accompaniments, will serve 25-50 people at each sitting and we’ll organize participants or community leaders to bring their own dishes that address nimbleness, loss, change, and preservation of meaningful foods in the context of a shifting climate. These dishes will provide a focus for a larger discussion about the species we eat and the food systems we depend on.

Making the Best of It: Dandelion is commissioned and presented by Northern with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Knight Foundation.
Northern Spark is a free, annual, dusk-to-dawn, multidisciplinary arts festival that takes place on the second Saturday of June. It draws tens of thousands of Minnesotans each year to interact with giant outdoor projections, temporary installations and performances by local and national artists.



Marina Zurkow is a media artist focused on near-impossible nature and culture intersections. She uses life science, materials, and technologies to foster intimate connections between people and non-human agents. Zurkow is a 2011 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, and granted awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Creative Capital. She is on faculty at ITP / Tisch School of the Arts, and is represented by bitforms gallery.

Valentine Cadieux directs the Environmental Studies and Sustainability programs at Hamline University. Professor Cadieux is a land-based artist and geographer (PhD, University of Toronto) who studies collaborative knowledge practices related to food systems, agriculture, and land in the context of settler society cultures in Canada, the United States, and Aotearoa New Zealand. She chairs the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust, and is currently working on the FoodShed, a collaborative online workshop and field guide to food movement efforts, and an accompanying podcast called Eating Together (share, eat, learn, act) -- find more at!

Aaron  Marx is an artist/architect focused on critically engaged and humanist work at the intersection of art and science. He is experienced in cross disciplinary approaches to art, building, and practice; particularly interested in digital tools, public art (the commons), social practice, and design solutions embedded in human value and environmental integrity.

Sarah Petersen is an artist, writer, educator and producer. She has worked in the natural foods sector in Minneapolis and Los Angeles as a cook, caterer, and food manager; as a multimedia and event producer and professional organizer for other creative people; and in an art practice examining the tension between accidental embodiment and chosen enactment in our daily political lives. She currently teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and is a Fellow in the Department of Sustainability at Hamline University.




• Welcome!
Come Make the Best of It

• About Making the Best of It

• The Dandelion Memorial Reader

• Project Documentation

• Loss, Danger, Joy:
Questions for Climate Chaos

• Recipes & Nutrition

• Dandelion Research,
Rumors & Resources

• Participate!

• Thanks & Credits